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(Another) new visitor to Boston...

Hi All!!

This is my first time posting on CHOW, but I've been an occasional reader every once in a while - reading up and visiting places in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada (where I've been raised and am now working). Toronto (as far as I know) has top-level and an enormous variety of ethnic foods to choose from. I'm definitely not a picky eater and will try almost anything (given I deem it an acceptable price), but I realize that Boston isn't really known for its cultural foods. Nonetheless, I'd definitely like to see what Boston has to offer in the lower and higher price ranges. In essence, I just want to taste and feel Boston.

I'm going to be in town for the International Seafood Exhibition this Thursday till next Wednesday and will be working and staying near Post Office Square Park. Is that the "south" of the city?

I'll have to grab quick and inexpensive lunches (max $10, 30 minutes or takeout) in the vicinity of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (although google maps tells me there's not much there)! So maybe in the southern area of the city?

For dinner, I may or may not have time, but would love to try some great places as well (mains ranging between $15 - $30) with a great Bostonian atmosphere!

I've taken a look at the "must-tries" and "touristy" places on previous threads so I have an idea, but feel free to give your two-cents regarding this area of the city!!

Thanks!!

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  1. I highly disagree about your assessment of Boston's ethnic food scene. Here's one place to try in that style that will fit your criterias: Oleana.

    3 Replies
    1. re: joebelt

      Except at Oleana that $30 won't get you far for dinner.

      The Convention Center is in a kind of nowhere land (at least for now, the neighborhood will probably be okay in a few years).

      Our ethnic food is okay, actually. In addition to Chinatown, which is near Post Office Square and you can search for what you like on the board, there are plenty of ethnic places in Porter Square (principally Japanese and Korean), Dorchester, (mostly Vietnamese) and Allston, which has just about everything.

      We're weak on Jewish, German, Mexican and E. European here, at least half-way decent on everything else.

      I recommend asking for a higher per diem, those prices can certainly be done as a local, but I think would be difficult as a tourist.

      1. re: sailormouth

        He's talking about $30 for his main course not for the whole dinner. Please re-read his OP. :)

        1. re: joebelt

          It's a good thing I don't have to read or write for a living!

    2. The new convention center is in the middle of a wasteland, but Post Office Square Park is pretty much the midpoint between the North End and Chinatown, which both have some worthy options. To be fair, our Chinatown doesn't have much in it that you wouldn't find on Spadina in terms of variety, but the quality is generally high at the favored places, such as New Jumbo Seafood, King Fung Garden, Peach Farm and New Shanghai. As for the North End, please note that you will be directed to Pizzeria Regina, and you should take that suggestion, but there's someone on this thread who will likely go on an extended rant about how awful it is. There's a history of this.

      6 Replies
      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

        hmmm, maybe my post wasn't too clear ... i am at work, afterall ...

        but i'm not solely interested in ethnic foods, but pretty much anything and the best "bang for the buck" slash "best of the city" foods boston has to offer in the area ....

        thanks for your responses tho .... barmy, looks like u've been to toronto .... the chinese/asian food north of the toronto has been booming the last few years as wealthy immigrants are settling/moving to the suburbs (markham/scarborough) ... should give it a shot if ure in town!

        i've definitely seen Olean and Pizzeria Regina thrown around ... and will most likely try to get to the "tourist" spots like Port Union and the Cheers Pub...

        1. re: msprnt

          Get your picture taken outside the Cheers pub, but don't even bother going in. It is seriously nothing more than a cheesy tourist trap, and it's not even particularly fun as cheesy tourist traps go.

          There's an outpost of Flour Bakery nearish the Convention Center, and they have excellent BLTs. That'll do for at least one lunch.

          If you're interested in touristy, Fanueil Hall will be near you, as will the Union Oyster House: most Hounds will tell you that if you eat at Union Oyster House, you should stick to the raw bar.

          1. re: msprnt

            In that case, you could try a different tack and choose your restaurants based more or less on what you see on the board and then choose your "local stuff" based on the menu. Just about every decent restaurant in Boston will have some fresh fish and most will have things that feature New England products (aside from seafood that includes cheese and I don't what else).

            One thing I would definitely recommend doing is searching the Boston board under "Toronto" and "Torontonian", we seem to have plague of visitors from Toronto using the board and most of you have very kindly not only asked for opinions but then provided feedback when you get home. Plague in a good way though, like a plague of chocolate frogs or boiled dinners or rivers of blood-sausage or something.

            1. re: msprnt

              PO Square is considered the financial district..and can get quiet at night. As Barmy points out, you're midway betwwen Ctown and the North End.and both are easily walkable. If Toronto has good Asian, I'd say explore the North End..along the way, you can great oysters at Union Oyster House..only eat raw clams or oysters at the downstairs raw bar..rest of menu is subpar. Continue to Neptune Oyster Bar. Our NE has dozens of restaurants and if you do a search, you'll likely find 1 that fits your mood. 1 place that is uniquely Boston is Daily Catch..tiny place that you basically sit in the kitchen..maybe 10 tables; specializing in Sicilian style seafood. Stroll and have desset and a coffee drink at 1 of the many cafes. Despite our resident Regina's basher, I think the place makes great pizza; for the best result, ask for it stretched and well done. Be sure to go to the original on Thatcher in the NE..and skip the branch in Fanieul Hall.

              If you're in PO Sq in the daytime, there is a Chilean sandwich shop called Chacarerro which is worth trying..and you're not far from Burrito Express; a small, mostly takeout Mexican that does a good job.

              1. re: 9lives

                Toronto does indeed have good Asian, but you might still find some things of interest in Boston's Chinatown. In particular, you should probably check out some of the spots like Potluck Cafe or Taiwan Cafe, which specialize in regional cuisines that I think aren't as well-represented in TO as Cantonese is. Toronto also has a nice Little Italy, but my recollection is that it's hard to find good pizza - I cast another strong vote for a visit to the original, North End Regina's, followed by dessert at Modern Pastry or Cafe Vittoria.

                Angela's Cafe is out of the way, especially for a visitor, but Mexican food in TO is absolutely dire. If you can find the time and are up for an adventure, you should try to get there. There are excellent directions on the Places link below.

                -----
                Angela's Cafe
                131 Lexington St, Boston, MA 02128

              2. re: msprnt

                Best ethnic bang-for-the-buck: Addis Red Sea on Tremont St. Ethiopian food, great setting, extremely friendly staff

                I still haven't been (For Shame!), but this board constantly raves about the authentic Mexican at Angela's Cafe in East Boston. Prices are very affordable.

            2. The Drydock Cafe near the convention center is cheap and pretty ok. It's in the design center. Plus there's that other lobster place (name escaping me) in that rotary ...

              I don't know if Sal's does lunch. I'd avoid Legal Test Kitchen.

              You can walk to Chinatown from there, actually, in about 10-15 minutes, straight down Summer St. In addition to the Chinese places listed, there are some decent Vietnamese restaurants and bahn mi outlets.

              1 Reply
              1. re: C. Hamster

                the lobster/seafood place in the rotary (Northern Ave) is Yankee Lobster. There is also a Pressed Sandwich and a Sebastians nearby for lunch.

              2. Great Bostonian atmosphere? Hmmm...you want to catch the locals at their favored watering holes, check out either Harvard Gardens or Silivertone's for afterwork crowds, and decent comfort food.

                Sal's is near the convention center, and they have an interesting take on pizza, which is available for take out by the slice.

                Post Office Sq has a ton of quick lunch options (Sebastians, Viga, Cosi), but not much after hours.

                1. Currently, it's 30-something, with a wind chill factor of 13 (F). Supposed to be in the low to mid-30s all week. Rainy on Friday.

                  Now back to you, Chet.

                  BTW, there's a pretty good Chinese place relatively close to the convention center. Eastern Pier. I like it quite a bit.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bostonbob3

                    Oooh, I forgot Eastern Pier! I usually reserve that place for summer months. Good call!

                  2. Has anyone mentioned Neptune Oyster yet (Salem St., North End)?

                    To me, that's the taste of Boston.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bostonbob3

                      Yes, a trip to the North End as well as to the South end should be in order for a 6 nite stay. See past posts but B&G, Toro and Union are popular.

                      Not far from Post Office Sq., lots of us like Al's on State St. for good subs on excellent rolls. Chacarerro on Providence St. for Chilean sandwiches. The Good Life is a good restaurant w/ a bar scene you might want to check out, most entrees around $20.

                    2. So i'm back in toronto now after a 6-night stay in Boston's financial district. I shall give you an overview of what I did and whatnot.

                      I got in real early on the wednesday and worked all day to start setting up our booth at the seafood exhibition (did anyone go? if so, how much does it cost as general public to enter?) Anyhow, my co-worker and i were pooped, so we went for the langham hotel's restaurant (Café Fleuri) were we started with corn-battered calamari. It was more substantial (in size) than i imagined it to be and included battered hot peppers! Nice and hot too ... I went for the poached monkfish. I can't recall, but I think it had artichoke hearts and capers? artichoke hearts for sure ... in ai light cream sauce ... i've never had monkfish before, but I thought it was cooked decently - not amazing, but nearing overcookedness....i think i had the sam adam's lager that night ...

                      the second night, my co-worker insisted we go to pf. changs ... which was beyond my expectations for an americanized chinese place ... it's not exactly typical chinese food (even if it had lots of sichuan-named foods), but it was ok ... i did get to try out the sebastian's near the BCEC and i got the signature roast beef sandwich (not sure what it's specific name was) - which i felt was one of the best sandwiches i've ever had from a shop like that (it was neat to see it had a teaching kitchen connected to it! .... anyone know how that works?).. my coworker got the tuna sandwich, which i thought was good and hearty, but he complained about lack of mayo (i think he doesn't really know real good food) ...i think i had the harpoon ufo that night

                      third night, he insisted we go to Mcormick and Schmick's ... we went to Faneuil Hall since I wanted to look around after ... we each had their 2lb maine live lobsters .... with their clam chowder and dessert ... chowder was ok (i'm not sure how to be blown away by chowder, but i wasn't on this trip) ... and the lobster was more like a 2.5 - 3lb lobster... we paid the 2lb price.... but it was a little tough (i think probably because it was so large and/or overcooked) ... but it was great after the last night of set up... i think i had the harpoon pla? or something that night ....

                      fourth night, i went to a canadian reception at the fairmont.... so it was finger foods like skewers and a bit of pasta .... and free beer ... nothing out of the ordinary ... but i did walk back to my hotel through chinatown but was a bit disappointed ... none of the restaurants looked appealing ... even though i was craving the bbt, the store looked a bit sketchy ... and empty (at 8pm) ....

                      fifth night, i wanted to try pizzeria regina's ... and saw they had one at quincy market, so we went there, only to find it was the take out one (and the guy there told me there aren't any restaurants any more??) ... so we asked a local where to get good pub food ... and he said to go to the green dragon ... which he said was "phenomenal" ... and is what the pub says of itself on the sign outside... haha.... it's just to the left of the union oyster house ... but my co-worker doesn't like raw oysters....so again, got shafted... green dragon is (apparently) quite historic, but it was empty when we got there at 7 or so .... with only the "usuals" at the bar.... we order the samplers platter and i got the lobster roll .... which was ok, but it coulda been a bit fresher ... i think my coworker's burger was quite substantial... we couldn't finish our starter.... and i got their own dragon brew....and a black and tan (combination of guiness and some lighter beer... thought it was an interesting thing to try...which it was) ...tasted almost like a light guiness somehow

                      the last night, we went to mcormick and schmick's at park plaza cuz we closed up at 10pm ... and some of our guys were staying there .....service was pretty bad ... and the food was alright .. my coworkers medium steak, was pretty much well done ... and the person who served it to us ... said it was a filet mignon when it was clearly a top sirloin ....so i question their knowledge of their own menu .... but they fixed that problem after a little while ... my risotto was a bit overcooked, but the sea scallops were fine ... the risotto was supposed to be infused with saffron ... but i didn't taste/smell it ... but that could have been because i was really tired...

                      and the last day before my flight, i got up to walk around during the day (since i've never gotten to do that) .. and i went to chacerro's? (sp?) ... and they didn't serve lunch until 11am .... and neither did the other sandwich place beside it on province st. .... so that was unfortunate ...

                      oh, and i ate breakfast every weekday at pressed sandwich near the langham .. it's quite good ... and their staff are friendly .. i had their (prosciutto/egg/fontina, bagel press, burrito press, smoked salmon press, and one more) ... i like their prosciutto special the best ... but the smoke salmon/cream cheese/capers/red onions was the most filling and most expensive sandwich at 5.50 ...

                      anyhow .... that's that, i was a bit disappointed with the places i tried out ... but that may because i was over-ruled at almost every dinner ... probably because i'm the new young guy .... the food at the exhibition was amazing tho!... u guys gotta go next year.... they've got evreything from raw oysters to sashimi to cooked fish to fried foods to fruit sorbets! ... i also found the downtown of boston to be quite gloomy and quiet ... maybe it's the winter .... or maybe it's where i was ... but there weren't very many people walking around outside or even many cars ... i was never walking in a crowd of more then 2 other people ... but i'd love to see it in full bloom in the summer!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: msprnt

                        Thanks for writing back, Boston is quite gloomy in February and downtown itself can feel a little quiet at times. Next time you're out on the company be more insistent on some places, your colleagues really picked some dogs.

                        1. re: msprnt

                          Your report made me absolutely cringe with sympathy for you. In your place, I think I would have gone solo to partake of chow worthy food, and, indeed, have done this when traveling w/non-hounds.

                          1. re: msprnt

                            You had a fairly typical tourist experience and sometimes ordered things that you wanted to try rather than the best option.

                            Business around the market has been very down this year, probably the deadest since the recession in the early 90's.

                            1. re: msprnt

                              I'm sad that you didn't have the opportunity to try some of our local restaurants instead of the chains (PF Changes, McCormick and Schmick). Also, the North End has the original, sit down Pizzaeria Regina's so it sounds like the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market location misled you which is too bad since the North End is not a far walk from there.

                              1. re: msprnt

                                Sorry to hear this, it sounds like you made the best of a bad situation though.

                                For your next visit to Boston, never ask anyone for advice in the Faneuil Hall area. Locals rarely, if ever, visit that area (aside for the lunch crowd of people who work in the financial district). It's filled with tourists and is generally avoided like the plague by Bostonians.

                                And also, the North End Pizzaria Regina is the only one worth going to in my opinion. That's the original, the chain stores or decent, but not worth going out of your way for.

                                Better luck next year!

                                1. re: heWho

                                  No, the trick is to ask the people who are walking briskly through or the ones dressed in generally darker colors like most working Bostonians. NE dress is different from other areas, not a lot but easily noticeable.

                                  I do think it's funny to see so many people with maps not asking questions. It's not like the natives don't speak English. (Well, where I live you have at least a 50/50 chance.)

                              2. thanks for your sympathies guys .... haha .... i guess there's reasons for the quietness and lack of life at the quincy market....i was skeptical about asking locals near faneuil hall about where to eat...... *sigh*... i didn't even get to go upstairs at faneuil hall because i was either too early or too late ....

                                hopefully, i can get some real good food next time!...since i have a better idea of how long it takes to get places by foot or cab .... my colleague considers himself knowledgeable about boston food since he's been to boston for 9 years worth of seafood shows....

                                anyhow cheers to all!